Financial Health
April 24, 2024

Your 2024 monthly money planner

Whether you’re coming across this page on New Year’s Day or during the holidays or anytime in between, you’ll find small steps to do each month — or any time — so you’ll know how to save money and reach your goals.

Are you one of the 84% of Americans who want to be more intentional and thoughtful about their spending than they are right now? Budgeting, planning for a large expense, and saving don’t have to feel daunting or like a chore. Really. This guide can help you change your mindset to think of money as a tool that helps you live well, instead of as a constraint. You can accomplish some of these tips while you’re reading this article. Others may require you to set aside some time. Either way, it will be worth it.

Let’s get started today, whatever day of the year it is for you.


  1. According to the 2023 Wells Fargo Money Study.

Jump to the month
January: Setting your year up for success with budget management tips
February: Finding the harmony in relationship finances
March: Spring cleaning your finances
April: Making tax-savvy moves
May: Reaching your graduation #goals
June: Making credit work for you
July: Shifting into retirement
August: Knowing the back-to-school basics
September: Building your emergency fund
October: Protecting yourself from getting tricked by social fraudsters
November: Focusing on family
December: Being your own holiday budget hero

January - Budgeting - Man reviewing Wells Fargo budget management information

Setting your year up for success with budget management tips

If you’re part of the 84% of Americans who want to be more thoughtful about their spending than they are right now, January is a great time to set your intentions for the year. This means sketching out how you want to spend your money, where to cut back, and any big purchases or events that you want to save for. “Setting a budget is a great way to help you plan for those things,” said Urmila Raghavan, Wells Fargo Consumer Deposits leader. “Once you know where your money is going, you can find realistic places in your budget where you can cut back to make room for an emergency fund, savings, and even investments.”

What to do right now

Scroll through your calendar or personal finance planner and jot down upcoming trips, events, big purchases, and so on — anything that might require saving for. Categorize by what is most urgent, what’s important, and what can wait. Simply being mindful of things you care about might give you motivation to find the funds for it.

Got a little extra time?

Figure out where your money goes so you can look for opportunities to adjust and put money aside for bigger expenses or savings. Focus on just your spending over the last month. You don’t have to account for every penny. Instead, think categories. Here’s how to track expenses:

  1. Pull up last month’s bank and credit card statements.
  2. Add up all your expenses for the month.
  3. Separate these expenses into two categories: Needs — absolute must-haves to survive, such as food, shelter, transportation, electricity, and insurance, and Wants — things that are important to you but you could live without, like monthly subscriptions, memberships, entertainment, eating out, and travel.
  4. See any trends? Take a good hard look at those Wants, because that’s where you can “find” money to put toward upcoming goals for the year.

Pro tip

There are a wide variety of budget management apps and online tools that can help you get organized and stay on track. For example, Wells Fargo customers can use My Spending Report with Budget Watch to automatically capture each deposit, purchase, and payment you make with Wells Fargo credit cards, debit cards, checks, and Bill Pay. Some credit card companies even give you an annual report of where you spent your money. You can establish your own spending and budget goals and track your progress over time.

Read more

Four plays for improving your financial health

Get tips on the 50/20/30 budget rule, credit scores, setting goals, and more.

How to create a budget

Whether you’re creating a budget for the first time or simply need a refresher, here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started.


  1. According to the 2023 Wells Fargo Money Study.
February - Love and money - Couple carrying groceries and talking about money

Finding the harmony in relationship finances

The intertwining of love and money can be a delicate dance. In fact, 73% of married or cohabitating Americans say financial decisions are ever a source of tension in their relationship, according to a 2021 study from the American Institute of CPAs.

It’s not always easy for couples to talk about money, their financial goals, spending habits, and budgeting. For example, one of you might be focused on the big picture and just want to know that everything is protected, while the other might relish diving deep into financial investment strategy. It’s crucial to strike a balance between shared and individual financial responsibilities.

This is not just for newlyweds or young families. At any point in a relationship, someone might feel uncomfortable suddenly bringing up a concern or asking about investments, especially if their partner took care of these tasks.

If the two of you are uncomfortable having these conversations or one partner feels less interested or less involved than the other, seek out a financial advisor to help facilitate the discussion and make sure nothing gets lost in translation.

Sylvia Guinan, CDFA® and financial advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors, offers these tips to get the ball rolling:

What to do right now


Have a finance date night, complete with wine, treats, or whatever will make it fun. Both of you jot down your goals. Start with your big dreams for 10-plus years, then five years, three years, next year, and all the way down to the upcoming months. How do your goals align with your aspirations as a couple?

Schedule regular date nights to keep you both on the same page: Assess your progress toward current goals, discuss any changes in your situation or new dreams, and adjust as necessary.

Got a little extra time?

Together, create a couple’s vision board so you can see your goals. Whiteboard it, sketch it out on a piece of paper, or tack up photos, magazine clippings, brochures, and so on for the following:

  • What’s important to you as a couple or family?
  • What do you think you’re going to earn from your job and what are you striving for?
  • What do you love to do for recreation?
  • What are your goals for retirement? Think about how you’re investing in your future.
  • How are you taking care of yourselves? This includes your spiritual and mental health, anything from unplugging for daily meditation to training for a race to going to church.

Now ask yourselves if you’ll need to budget to attain any of these things? If so, check back with January’s tips.

Pro tip

While joint accounts can simplify certain aspects of financial management, maintaining individual financial autonomy can allow each partner to retain a sense of independence. This can be especially important with second marriages, when there are ex-spouses and children on both sides.

Be transparent if you want to keep a specific account separate. For example, an inherited account is considered outside the matrimonial assets. However, if you add those funds to a joint account or if you take some of those funds and buy a home, then it becomes comingled with marital property.

Ask your financial advisor and check with the laws of your state.

Read more

Considering a prenup: Questions to ask before you marry

Clear expectations and intentions can provide safety and security for everyone holding individual and shared assets today and in the future.

5 steps to prepare for marriage and managing money

Tips for starting the money conversation, budgeting, if and how to merge finances, and more.

4 relationship-saving tips for running your business with a loved one

Info for couples already running or thinking about starting a business together to help ensure their entrepreneurial partnership is as successful as their romantic one.

LifeSync® in the Wells Fargo Mobile® app

Wells Fargo customers: You have access to resources, tools, and people to help you identify and track your money goals and make better financial decisions.


  1. The use of the CDFA® designation does not permit Wells Fargo Advisors or its Financial Advisors to provide legal advice, nor is it meant to imply that the firm or its associates are acting as experts in this field.
March - Spring Cleaning - Couple thinking about Wells Fargo’s money saving tips guide

Spring cleaning your finances

What’s keeping you up at night? What are those things that you must do but you’ve been putting off? It’s like a leaky faucet that’s creating risk for you. If the pipes burst, you’re going to have a much bigger problem. If you just called the plumber when you noticed the issue, chances are it would all be ok.

Michael Liersch, Wells Fargo head of Advice & Planning, offers these easy ways to prioritize, simplify, and strategize for freshening up your finances.

What to do right now

Grab a pen and paper and write down the answers to these questions, either by yourself or with your partner.

  1. Where is all your money? You don’t have to log in to every account for the amount. Just jot down all the financial institutions you can think of where you have money at. Empty the piggy bank and sock drawer to find any hidden money. Think about the places you used to work. Do you still have a retirement account there? Do any friends or family owe you money?
  2. Where is all your debt? These are all the places you owe money, such as mortgages, personal loans, family members, and credit cards. Dump out your real and virtual wallet or purse and track each debt, plus the interest rates. Be real with yourself.
  3. Do you know what would happen to your money if something happened to you? Just answer yes or no. If you don’t know this, how will anyone else? Are people depending on you? If you are temporarily incapacitated, will your family know where to pay bills and so on?

Don’t sweat it if you can’t remember right off the bat where all your money is. Most people can’t. It’s complicated. Now how does this make you feel? Not as bad as you thought. Or maybe even better than you thought. Oftentimes, not knowing stops people from doing something productive with their money.

Fun fact: You can calculate your net worth by subtracting your total debt (liabilities) in #2 from your total money (assets) in #1.

Got a little extra time?

Now ask yourself, where could I prioritize to simplify my life? Do I need all these credit cards, this personal loan, or cash hidden in cookie tins? Start looking at where you can just do one thing instead of many.

Resist trendy money challenges, like putting dollar bills in an envelope each day and counting what you have at the end of the year. Instead, transfer an amount regularly from your checking to your savings account or a money market account. If you don’t need the money right away, consider a CD (certificate of deposit) to take advantage of compounding interest. And with an IRA, you may receive a tax advantage.

Pro tip

Consider not spreading out your money. Think about loyalty programs, like buy 10 coffees, get one free. Then after you’ve bought so many items in a year or so, you reach the next level for more discounts.

This works for more than just coffee. Banks offer exclusive services and deals, such as better interest rates on deposit accounts or loan products, to meet the needs of loyal customers. And charging a certain amount over a period on particular credit cards may earn you cash back or rewards.

Strategize how this business benefit can work for you and your family by asking where the break points are. How much do you need in your account or to charge on your card to get these benefits? Look for a company that serves your entire financial life by offering the most benefits and simplification for just one or two actions.

Read more

How to keep your financial house in order

A checklist for identifying needs, milestone goals, and aspirations, as well as building a safety net.

Calculate your Debt-to-Income Ratio

Find out how manageable your debt is and if you have money leftover to save, spend, or handle unexpected expenses. All you need is your annual income before taxes and your total monthly debt payments.

April - Taxes - Couple smiling after reviewing tax saving tips

Making tax-savvy moves

Samira Arikat, an Arizona-based financial advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors, has these insights for tax time and throughout the year. As always, consult your tax advisor for tax planning and charitable giving considerations before you make any major financial transaction. For more information, visit the Wells Fargo Advisors Tax Investing Center.

What to do right now

Believe it or not, you can look forward to tracking your spending. During her Sunday morning coffee moment, Arikat combines her gratitude for family, friends, and health with receipt gathering. “I reflect on what I did the previous week, who I sent flowers to or grabbed a bite with, and write it down,” she said. Take this time to get it right, so you don’t miss any expenses that should be added to your budget or deducted from taxes. “Months later, you won’t remember what you forgot.”

Got a little extra time?

Explore these tax-saving moves before you file your taxes on April 15:

  • Maximize contributions to tax-advantaged accounts, including Traditional IRAs, 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b) accounts. Once contributions are made to these types of accounts, the asset can grow tax-deferred over time.
  • Compare the standard deduction to itemized deductions to help reduce the amount of income that is subject to income tax.
  • Check if you’re eligible for tax credits, which reduce the amount of taxes due dollar for dollar. There are credits for child and dependent care, owning an electric vehicle, upgrading your house to be more energy efficient, and more.

Pro tip

If you own a rental property, consider creating a limited liability company (LLC). An LLC provides a legal degree of separation between an owner’s personal assets and business assets, therefore LLC owners are not personally liable for the business’s debts.

It’s a way to create a business that’s not brick-and-mortar. LLCs also have tax advantages because you can write off business expenses. For example, if you drive to your rental property to check or inspect, you can write off the mileage and other parts of your business trip. Beyond that, if you open a credit card in the name of your LLC instead of your own name, that credit card balance does not show as personal debt. This can help with your personal credit score if you’re going to get a mortgage or other loan.

Note: While most states permit single owners to own an LLC, look at the laws in the state where your property is located to identify any other legal considerations you may need to be aware of. Check with a tax professional to see if it makes sense to put your personal residence in your LLC.

Each state sets its own filing fees, which can range anywhere from $50 to more than $300. You can complete and submit LLC formation documents yourself or use an LLC filing service for an additional cost. Once your LLC is created, you’ll need to change the title for your rental property, your house, your car, or whatever you want to come under the LLC.

Read more

Four smart moves to help maximize your tax refund in 2023

Getting a tax refund this year? Will you spend it or save it? Sandy McPeak, senior financial advisor at Wells Fargo Advisors, shares strategies for putting your money to work for you.

9 ways to pay less taxes, now and throughout the year

Credits, deductions, and even saving and giving can help you reduce your taxable income before taxes are due and maximize your take-home pay.

Wells Fargo Advisors does not offer tax or legal advice.

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is a bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

Wells Fargo Advisors is the trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a separate registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

May - Graduation - Woman holding her graduation diploma

Reaching your graduation #goals

You’ve thrown off your graduation cap and gown and are starting your first job. Being on your own and managing your money is a big responsibility, but it’s easier when you understand how to live within your means. If you’re having trouble, embrace guardrails. For example, consider a debit card without overdraft fees.

What to do right now

Calculate your take-home pay. Deduct the total cost of your Needs from this number. The difference is money you can choose to redirect to paying off any debt, building an emergency fund, making special purchases, or donating to charity.

Got a little extra time?

If your wallet feels a little thin between paychecks, you’re not alone. According to the recent Wells Fargo Money Study 62% of Americans can pay their bills but afterward have little left over for “extras.” Here are surprisingly easy ways to find some fast cash.

  • Plan your meals for the week. It’s better for your waistline, and you won’t be tempted to eat out.
  • Cut back on massages, happy hour drinks, and so on. You are wonderful, but maybe you don’t need to treat yourself so often.
  • Steer clear of sales. Just because it’s marked down doesn’t mean you need it.
  • Have a garage sale. No garage? Sell stuff online.
  • Carpool or take public transportation. You’ll save on parking, gas, and stress.
  • DIY what you previously outsourced. Roll up your sleeves for car washing, manicures / pedicures, dry cleaning, and delivery meals and groceries.

Pro tip

When you’re young and have your first real job, it may be a good time to start setting aside money in a Roth IRA. Since you’ll be in the lowest or no tax bracket, that’s money that could just grow for the long term with the help of compounding interest, and you won’t have to pay taxes when you take it out at the other end.

Don’t wait until you have a lot of money to invest; every little bit counts. At age 18, it takes a monthly investment of $322 at 8% annual compounding interest to have $2,000,000 at age 65. However, if you wait until age 40, that number increases to $2,102 monthly, and if you wait until age 50, that number increases to $5,779 per month.

Read more

Real career advice from real financial advisors

From personal finance to networking to philanthropy, here are tips to help you get ahead at work and in life.

Beyond College: Webinar Series

Videos featuring Wells Fargo experts on mentors, entrepreneurship, resumes and interviews, and more that you can watch anytime.

3 things to do about your student loan right now

Federal programs, paired with strategic budgeting, can give borrowers a fresh start at loan repayment.


  1. About the study: On behalf of Wells Fargo, Versta Research conducted a national survey of 3,403 U.S. adults and 203 U.S. teens age 14 to 17. Sampling was stratified and data were weighted by age, gender, race, ethnicity, income and education to achieve accurate representation of the current population based on estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The survey was conducted from September 5 to October 3, 2023. Assuming no sample bias, the maximum margin of error for full-sample estimates is ±2%. Most findings are reported based on the full sample of adults. Comparisons and data from teens are noted separately.
  2. Qualified Roth IRA distributions are not included in gross income. Roth IRA distributions are generally considered “qualified” provided a Roth IRA has been open for more than five years and the owner has reached age 59½ or meets other requirements. Withdrawals may be subject to an IRS 10% additional tax for early or pre-59½ distributions.

  3. This example is hypothetical and is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to represent any specific investment, nor is it indicative of future results.

June - Credit and Debt - People smiling at computer after reviewing credit tips

Making credit work for you

Healthy credit and manageable debt can give you the power to do more. Krista Phillips, Wells Fargo head of Branded Cards and Marketing, shares ideas for paying down debt, getting the most out of your credit card benefits, and understanding what your credit score can do for you.

What to do right now

If you have debt for multiple credit cards, bills, and loans, use the Avalanche Method “to pay off highest interest rate debt first, since it’s the one that’s costing you the most money. You’ll not only pay off what you owe but you’ll save money in interest, too.

  1. Principal is the money that you originally agreed to pay back, like when you make a purchase on a credit card or take out a loan. Interest is the cost charged by the bank for borrowing that principal. The less you pay in interest, the more you can put toward repayment of principal. Write down the total amount owed, interest rate, minimum monthly payments, and due dates for each debt.
  2. Arrange them from highest to lowest interest rate.
  3. Pay the minimum monthly payments on all debts to protect your credit score and keep from falling behind in payments.
  4. Determine how much extra you can afford to put toward your highest interest rate account each month.

When you’ve paid off the account with the highest interest rate, put that account’s monthly payment and the extra you budgeted toward the next-highest interest rate account debt.

After you’ve taken an inventory of finances and you’re clear on where your money is going, ask for help to keep you on course. Lean on friends and loved ones you can trust, as well as banker at a branch, a financial advisor, and other experts. Wells Fargo customers can use LifeSync® to track money goals.

Got a little extra time?

As your lifestyle changes, so will your credit card needs. If your card isn’t keeping up, switch it up. The first step is knowing what’s out there:

  • Rewards credit cards: Earn points or cash back based on a percentage of your spending. Some offer bonus points for categories like groceries, gas, and dining out and a variety of ways to redeem your points. By using a rewards credit card to pay for everyday expenses that you can pay off right away, you can earn more cash back and travel rewards.
  • Cash back credit cards: Redeem for rewards such as cash from an ATM, statement credits, gift cards, and to offset purchases.
  • Travel credit cards: Earn rewards designed for frequent travel. Redeem your rewards on flights, car rentals, hotel stays, gift cards, or to offset purchases. Many of the best travel rewards cards let you earn points through everyday purchases, and some have concierge services.

Pro tip

Wells Fargo customers: Check out Credit Close-UpSM for free and easy access to your monthly credit update.

Read more

How does credit play a role in the jobs money can do for me?

Listen as Julie Caperton, head of Wells Fargo Private Bank, discusses productive and unproductive uses of credit with host Michael Liersch, Wells Fargo head of Advice and Planning on the About Money podcast.

LifeSync® in the Wells Fargo Mobile® app

Wells Fargo customers: You have access to resources, tools, and people to help you identify and track your money goals and make better financial decisions.

Debt Consolidation Calculator

Estimate your options for reduced interest and payment terms.


  1. LifeSync® is available on the smartphone versions of the Wells Fargo Mobile® app. Additional device availability may vary. Availability may be affected by your mobile carrier’s coverage area. Your mobile carrier’s message and data rates may apply.
  2. The Private Bank is an experience level for qualifying clients of Wells Fargo Wealth & Investment Management (WIM). WIM offers financial products and services through affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company. Bank products and services are available through Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Member FDIC.
July - Retirement - Women smiling and taking a photo

Shifting into retirement

Michael Liersch, Wells Fargo head of Advice & Planning, wants you to stop thinking about budgeting. “Instead, let’s reframe it as intentional spending,” he said. “Go from thinking about constraining your spending to how your spending is truly fulfilling your needs and bringing you joy. Then consider how this might change in retirement.” Here’s how to change your mindset.

What to do right now

Get that pen and paper out again and give your off the top of your head answers to these questions:

  • When do you plan to retire? You may retire earlier than you think, so subtract a few years. This is what happens to most people. People sometimes get tired of working or can’t work as long as they’d hoped to due to health reasons.
  • How do your current expenses compare to your anticipated expenses in retirement? This is called the replacement ratio. Keep in mind expenses may balloon just after you retire with things like vacations, and day-to-day spending may decrease over time as you get older and less active. Factor in medical and long-term care insurance, as well as Medicare or Medicaid and other programs available to help you with health care costs.
  • Do I have enough? Circle one of these: More than enough, just enough, not enough. If you have just enough or more, are you feeling good about it?

Got a little extra time?

Write down all your retirement-specific accounts. This can include a Roth IRA or a Traditional IRA. Are you taking advantage of an employer-sponsored retirement account such as a 401(k) or a business owner retirement account by maxing it out to the limit or getting employer match?

If you’re age 50 or over, you can make catch-up contributions to your retirement accounts. Even if you’re nearing retirement, it’s not too late.

Pro tip #1

  1. Think about what’s truly essential for you to spend now and, ultimately, in retirement. This is what you must spend to cover your basic needs, such as housing, food, clothes, and medical.
  2. Match the thing you need to pay for with the thing that’s going to cover it after you retire. For example, if Social Security could cover your rent or mortgage, will you tap into your IRA and 401(k) to cover food and other needs? (Call Social Security directly to get accurate numbers.)
  3. Write down your wants. This could be a vacation, gifts for grandkids, big purchases, or your dream car.
  4. Identify any gaps and how you can make them up.

Congratulations. You just created the beginnings of a plan, which offers you the ability to make tradeoffs depending on different scenarios or gaps. Consider using LifeSync® in the Wells Fargo Mobile® app to track progress toward your goals. Also look for software, calculators, and other tools to help you do more planning.

Here’s where you can ask yourself if you have enough. If you don’t, do you tweak your budget to increase the amount you’re saving or investing, change asset allocation, or change the account type that you’re putting your money into? What risks are you willing to take to potentially achieve your goals, like shifting money from your savings to higher-risk investments?

Do you need to change more than just your lifestyle? Some goals might require bigger adjustments, such as moving to a state with no income taxes or downsizing to a house on a smaller plot of land with lower property taxes.

For long-term goals — like a dream vacation or a second home — start planning for them now and add to your savings monthly to take advantage of compounding interest.

If it’s really a want, and there’s a gap in how you can pay for it, maybe you don’t need it at all.

Pro tip #2

Did you know a divorced spouse can receive up to 50% of their ex-spouse’s full retirement benefit? You can receive benefits if:

  • Your ex-spouse is living. If your ex-spouse passes away, you are no longer entitled to their benefit.
  • You are single. If you remarry, you can’t collect ex-spouse’s benefits.
  • You are at least 62.
  • You were married 10 years or more.
  • The ex-spouse’s benefit is greater than your own benefit.

You’re not getting benefits in lieu of your ex-spouse, and they are not sharing theirs. In fact, they may never even know, since Social Security does not alert them that you are taking benefits on their behalf. And it won’t affect the benefits available to the current spouse. You must wait until you reach full retirement age for Social Security (which for most people is between 66 and 67) if you want to claim your full benefit, but there is no advantage to be gained by deferring past your full retirement age. If you are divorced from more than one spouse and meet the requirements for both ex-spouses, you can claim benefits from the higher earning one. Contact Social Security to learn more.

Read more

Planning for retirement

Start saving today and invest consistently over time to help meet your retirement goals.

Why invest in an IRA?

IRAs allow you to save for retirement and potentially take advantage of tax benefits. Learn more about your IRA choices, eligibility, contribution limits, and more.

Questions you’re asking: Should I consider moving in retirement?

Moving after retirement may offer some benefits — but there are potential pitfalls to keep in mind as well.

Retirement income planning: 5 actions to consider

Following these guidelines could help you maintain a steady flow of income in your nonworking years.

All investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal.  Asset allocation and diversification are investment methods used to help manage risk. They do not guarantee investment returns or eliminate risk of loss including in a declining market.


  1. Traditional IRA distributions are taxed as ordinary income. Qualified Roth IRA distributions are federally tax-free provided it has been more than five years since the Roth IRA was funded AND the owner is at least age 59½ or disabled, or using the first-time homebuyer exception, or taken by their beneficiaries due to their death. Qualified Roth IRA distributions are not subject to state and local taxation in most states. Distributions from Traditional and Roth IRAs may be subject to an IRS 10% additional tax if distributions are taken prior to age 59½. 401(k) withdrawals are subject to ordinary income tax and may be subject to an IRS 10% additional tax for early or pre-59½ distributions.
August - Back to school - Woman smiling after reviewing her college expense budget

Knowing the back-to-school basics

As you prepare yourself to be academically ready to be on campus, be financially ready, too. Opening a bank account and creating a college expenses budget will get you started. Stephen Nixon, Wells Fargo director of Consumer Savings Accounts, offers these suggestions.

What to do right now

If you have a part-time job, receive financial aid or scholarship funds, need to buy a parking pass, or get an allowance from your parents, you will probably need a bank account. Look into a checking account with benefits for students, like no monthly service fee if you’re under 24 years old. Some have check-writing abilities while others are checkless, offering online payments and no overdraft fees. Other key features can include mobile deposit, bill pay, and sending and receiving money with Zelle.

Consider which banks have physical access at your school, so you can use the ATM or talk to a banker. Ask your school what partnerships are available. You may be eligible for the Wells Fargo Campus Card Program if you attend a participating school. This program lets you show your school pride with a co-branded debit card or a school-issued student ID that can serve as an official campus ID card for meal plans, library access, and more, as well as an ATM card or debit card when linked to a Wells Fargo checking account.

Decide whether you need one of your parents on the account, then make an appointment to visit a branch and meet with a banker. When you have your account, load your debit card to your digital wallet and sign up to have any recurring payments you receive directly deposited to your account.

Got a little extra time?

From textbooks to late-night takeout, college expenses can add up fast. But, creating a budget can actually make your money go further. Start by watching How to Create a College Budget in Three Steps. Then use this college budget worksheet (PDF) to track everything from lab fees and parking to laundry and pizza.

Pro tip

Once you’re 18, you may want to think about getting a credit card. If you keep a low balance and pay it off monthly, you’ll start building credit early and responsibly. Learn more about the benefits of a good credit score.

Read more

College Financial Foundations Webinar Series

Videos featuring Wells Fargo experts on funding education, managing money and credit, and more that you can watch anytime.

6 smart money tips for college-bound students

Anxious about money? You’re not alone. Find out what you can do now to help with your future financial needs.

September - Emergency Fund - Couple reviewing ways to build their emergency fund

Building your emergency fund

Why should creating an emergency fund be a top priority? It’s a key to achieving financial security. Without one, it can be harder to manage unexpected or sudden expenses. People who don’t have a safety net often turn to credit to pay for what they need and wind up with unplanned debt.

Although experts suggest six months of living expenses as a goal to cover any unexpected charges or emergencies, no amount is too small to sock away. And don’t wait to start setting aside money and miss out on the benefits of compound interest — interest paid on the interest you previously earned. The important thing is you start as soon as you can.

Once you have a stable source of income, bills are paid on time, and you can save consistently each month, consider opening a savings account for your emergency fund. For example, you can open a Wells Fargo savings account online with as little as $25. This creates a space to easily build and manage your savings. You’ll see your savings accumulate and may be less tempted to dip into these vital funds for non-emergencies.

What to do right now

Set your first emergency fund savings goal, and determine where the money is going to come from. Start by tracking your spending and finding ways to cut back. For example, if you typically pay $100 for takeout food each week, aim to spend less than $50 then put the rest into savings. Use any windfalls, like a bonus from work or a rebate, to jumpstart your savings. Your tax refund, if you receive one, is another good place to start.

Got a little extra time?

“Pay yourself first,” said Stephen Nixon, Wells Fargo director of Consumer Savings Accounts. “And make it automatic so you don’t see the funds.” This can be direct deposit from your employer into your savings account, auto transfers that you set up between accounts, or taking advantage of some banks’ save-as-you-go features that automatically transfer a small amount from your checking to savings every time you make a purchase.

Pro tip

If you believe you have some savings that you won’t need in the immediate future, consider these options to turbocharge your balance:

  • Certificates of deposit, also known as CDs, lock in your funds for a fixed term, often three months to a year or more, typically for a higher interest rate.
  • Periodic auto transfers from your savings account to an investment account, such as WellsTrade.
  • Fractional shares, such as Wells Fargo Advisors Stock FractionsSM, which enables you to buy a piece of a stock or Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) for as little as $10.

Read more

5 steps to prepare for financial emergencies

The key is to start small and save consistently.

Where to go for emergency funds

A financial emergency is a highly stressful situation. If you’re facing loan payments, medical expenses, or repair costs you can’t afford, here are a few paths to consider.

October - Fraud and security - Woman reviewing ways to avoid scams

Protecting yourself from getting tricked by social fraudsters

Scammers love lurking like ghosts behind the cyber walls of social media, pretending to be someone you can trust. In fact, according to the FTC (PDF), reported losses in 2023 to social media scams hit more than $1.4 billion.

Talk to your friends and family about what to watch out for and how to avoid scams. In the first six months of 2023, in reports of money lost to fraud by people in their 20s, social media was the contact method more than 38% of the time. For young adults from 18 to 19, it was almost half.

For treats, not tricks, Joe Bernardo, Wells Fargo head of Fraud & Claims Operations, shares the following tips so you know how to avoid being scammed online and through social media.

What to do right now

Be cautious about accepting new friends on social media: Romance scams are a fraudster favorite, causing people to get scammed into making a transaction that they mistakenly authorized.

Got a little extra time?

You may know not to send money to someone you have only met online. Use that same caution even if someone you think you know is asking for money via social media or a phishing email. Wait until you validate. Scammers can hack social media profiles or create fake profiles, so call the person to confirm their identity and potentially stop scams. Wire payments and most other money transfer methods are immediate and typically irreversible, even if fraud is involved.

Pro tip

While the above tips address stopping scams that you have authorized, banks and credit card companies offer account alerts by text or email so you’re quickly notified of anything unexpected or unauthorized. You can set up alerts for:

  • When your debit or credit card is used for purchases online or exceeds an amount you set, such as $100.
  • An account balance that falls below an amount you set.
  • ATM withdrawals or cash advance.
  • Purchases that have been made online, by phone, or through mail order.

Be sure to immediately report suspicious activity.

Read more

Easy ways to prevent check fraud and scams

Although check crimes are on the rise, you have the power to avoid becoming a victim, starting with your pen.

3 things to know to protect yourself from cybercrime

Roughly one-third of Americans have become victims of cybercrime. Worried about your own risk of online financial fraud? Here are easy steps you can take to defend yourself.

Wells Fargo Security Center

Learn how to identify scams and protect your money and information.

November - Focus on Family - Man and child smiling together

Focusing on family

Family often gathers during the holidays, and this can be a good time for financial conversations. With a scoop of salad, share your college savings plans. As you pass the potatoes, let everyone in on who your 401(k) beneficiaries are. Before dessert comes, ask your parents where they want to be buried. By the time everyone retires to the living room, you’ll all be up to date.

We all wish it could be that easy. Jamie Reed, head of Affluent and Premier Banking at Wells Fargo, shares tips he offers high net worth families that you can use too.

What to do right now

Jot down as much as you know now, and ask your partner, siblings, and parents for the rest.

You can start by gathering some key information in one place and asking your family members to do the same.

  • Names and phone numbers of close friends, relatives, doctors, lawyers, and financial advisors.
  • Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid numbers.
  • Sources of income and assets, such as pensions, retirement accounts (IRAs, 401(k)s, and others), Social Security, stocks, bonds, and property.
  • Insurance (life, long-term care, home, and car) policy numbers and agents’ names and phone numbers.
  • Bank account numbers, usernames, and passwords, including checking, savings, credit unions, and credit cards. Note if bills are paid automatically.
  • Most recent income tax return.
  • Mortgages (including property tax) and other debts: What is owed, to whom, and when payments are due.
  • Original deed of trust for home as well as car title and registration.
  • Location of safe deposit box and key.
  • Current prescriptions, updated regularly.

Lists like these can save families a lot of time and money. If something happens to one of you, you don’t want people trying to remember the last thing you told them. Keep details in a safe place.

Got a little extra time?

Wills, estate plans, and trusts are not just for affluent people. For example, if you did not name a beneficiary, your accounts will probably have to pass through probate, the rigorous and time-consuming process whereby the court oversees the dissolution of an estate, and your money or possessions may possibly go to someone you would not otherwise wish to have such control.

Sit down with your parents, siblings, and children and ask these questions.

  • Do you have a will? This specifies how your estate — your property, money, and other assets — will be distributed and managed when you die. This includes care for children under age 18, adult dependents, and pets, as well as end-of-life arrangements, such as a funeral or memorial service and burial or cremation.
  • Have you considered a living will? This document tells doctors how you want to be treated if you cannot make your own decisions about emergency treatment. You can say which common medical treatments or care you would want, which ones you would want to avoid, and under which conditions each of your choices applies.
  • Do you have a living trust? This names and instructs a person, called the trustee, to hold and distribute property and funds on your behalf when you are no longer able to manage your affairs.
  • Do you have a durable power of attorney for finances? This would be someone who will make financial decisions for you when you are unable to and to sign checks.
  • Do you have a durable power of attorney for health care? This person, who can be different from the above, is your proxy — also known as a representative, surrogate, or agent. They should be familiar with your values and wishes and can make health care decisions for you if you are unable to communicate these yourself. This can help you plan for situations that cannot be foreseen, such as a serious auto accident or stroke.

Pro tip

A few more things to keep in mind:

  • Update your beneficiaries. If you make an amendment to your trust, in the case that someone has died, married, divorced, or had a child, make sure to go back to your financial institutions and let them know there is an amendment. For example, an ex-spouse could come in with a trust document that hasn’t been updated and collect funds.
  • A trust specifies who gets money or property but doesn’t tell where to look for it.
  • Some states may have different laws. For example, if you set up your trust in New York when you got married 20 years ago then moved to Arizona, which is a community property state after 10 years, Arizona laws will apply.

Ready to meet with a professional? Call 1-866-243-0931 or make an appointment with a banker near you or a financial advisor.

Read more

Estate planning strategies: 5 actions to consider now

Getting the process underway can help you plan for your wishes to be fulfilled while avoiding any unwelcome surprises for your heirs.

Who gets the horses?

Here are some ideas to consider when including unique assets in your estate plan.

Wells Fargo Estate Care Center

Dealing with a loved one’s finances can feel overwhelming. We’ll work with you to make it as simple and straightforward as we can.

Estate Planning: When and Why

Hear from Michael Liersch, head of Wells Fargo Advice and Planning, about how starting and updating your estate plan can help loved ones make the most out of life.

Wells Fargo and Company and its Affiliates do not provide tax or legal advice. This communication cannot be relied upon to avoid tax penalties. Please consult your tax and legal advisors to determine how this information may apply to your own situation. Whether any planned tax result is realized by you depends on the specific facts of your own situation at the time your tax return is filed.

December - Holiday budgeting - Couple reviewing ways to track expenses

Being your own holiday budget hero

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers spend nearly $900 each year to celebrate the winter holidays. But the holidays don’t have to break the bank. If you’re asking yourself how to stop overspending, start with a specialized — and realistic —holiday budget to help you spend thoughtfully.

What to do right now

Following the steps from January, look at your November and December statements from the previous year. How much did you spend and on what?

Also, understanding how you shopped can make it easier to stick to a budget and minimize situations that could lead to overspending.

  • Are there items you bought on impulse? Did you make purchases that you later discovered you didn’t really need? It can help to pause on hitting “purchase” and take some extra time to consider if you really need an item.
  • Did you overspend on credit card purchases? Set up credit card alerts to be notified when your daily spending or purchases exceed your set amount.
  • Do you see last-minute purchases that you felt rushed to overpay for or had to pay expedited shipping fees so they would arrive on time? Avoid procrastinating. Plan ahead, compare prices online, and shop early for deals and sales.

Checking your bank’s mobile app for your account balances and any upcoming payments from your accounts can help you stay within your means instead of racking up holiday debt.

Got a little extra time?

Take advantage of seasonal jobs or ramp up a side hustle to earn additional income that can go toward your spending budget or be saved.

Pro tip

Talk to your financial advisor about year-end tax planning strategies, such as mandatory distributions from your retirement accounts, charitable giving, and tax-loss harvesting.

Read more

How to avoid holiday scams this shopping season

Learn about cyber scams to look out for during the shopping season, how you can avoid them, and what to do if you’ve become a victim.

Wells Fargo and Company and its Affiliates do not provide tax or legal advice. This communication cannot be relied upon to avoid tax penalties. Please consult your tax and legal advisors to determine how this information may apply to your own situation. Whether any planned tax result is realized by you depends on the specific facts of your own situation at the time your tax return is filed.

Jump to the month
January: Setting your year up for success with budget management tips
February: Finding the harmony in relationship finances
March: Spring cleaning your finances
April: Making tax-savvy moves
May: Reaching your graduation #goals
June: Making credit work for you
July: Shifting into retirement
August: Knowing the back-to-school basics
September: Building your emergency fund
October: Protecting yourself from getting tricked by social fraudsters
November: Focusing on family
December: Being your own holiday budget hero

Investment products and services offered through Wells Fargo Clearing Services and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC, members SIPC, registered broker-dealers and non-bank affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company.

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a separate registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is a bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

Investment and Insurance Products are:

▸ Not Insured by the FDIC or Any Federal Government Agency

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